ASHBURNHAM — Powered by the play of sophomore forward Rachel McCarron and junior guard Amy Mattson, Groton-Dunstable made it look easy in the finals of the Pete Trainor Memorial Girls Basketball Tournament with a 59-26 win over Oakmont.
McCarron earned Most Valuable Player honors with her second consecutive brilliant effort, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. Mattson continued to play well, securing a tournament all-star berth with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“Rachel and Amy continue to be outstanding,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. “But tonight we received scoring from a number of players and our help defense was much improved. We attacked the basket and did a good job of handling Oakmont’s defensive pressure. This was our best all-around performance of the season.”
“Groton-Dunstable just killed us inside,” said Oakmont coach Jeff O’Neill. “We are young and we showed our immaturity tonight. We had a nice stretch at the beginning of the third quarter but Groton-Dunstable is a good team.”
One statistic jumps off the scoresheet: The Lady Crusaders allowed no offensive rebounds in the game, part of a decisive 44-18 rebounding edge. Groton-Dunstable complemented that with accurate shooting, connecting on 26 of 55 shots (47 percent).
Groton-Dunstable came out firing on all cylinders and quickly took control of the game by scoring the first 12 points. Mattson buried a 17-footer and Erika Eipp (eight points, three rebounds) drained a three-pointer to make it 5-0. After McCarron hit a lay-up after taking a pass from Anna Towle (five points, five rebounds, two steals), another Eipp trifecta made it 10-0 and forced an Oakmont timeout with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
The Lady Crusaders padded the lead when McCarron finished off a fast break with a lay-up, before the Spartans finally got on the board with 3:40 left when Chelsea Goodale hit a three-pointer.
Sophomore guard Cate Cullen capped a productive first quarter for the Lady Crusaders when she banked in a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it 19-6 after eight minutes.
The teams played evenly in the second quarter and the Lady Crusaders took a 26-12 lead to halftime.
Oakmont came out strongly to start the third quarter and sliced into the lead. Leslie Gould hit a 15-footer, Kathryn Leger converted a steal into a lay-up, and Kayla Costa finished off a drive. The Lady Crusaders were careless with the ball and coach Mark Hennelly called a timeout with his team on top 28-20 with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter.
“At the beginning of the third quarter we showed our youth and inconsistency,” said Hennelly. “The timeout was a verbal one and the girls responded very well to it.”
Groton-Dunstable scored 11 of the next 12 points to put the game out of reach at 39-21. McCarron was the catalyst of the spurt with seven points, while Carley LaMalva added a pair of strong drives.
Oakmont got its own three-point buzzer beater when Kristen Connolly dialed up from long range, but the Lady Crusaders took a 39-24 lead to the fourth quarter.
Groton-Dunstable never let up and scored the first 14 points of the fourth quarter with strong defense, good shooting and strong boardwork. Mattson wrapped up her strong effort with a pair of perimeter jumpers and a drive.
LaMalva finished with four points, six rebounds and two steals for the Lady Crusaders while Meijer added four points and six rebounds. Riley Rogers worked hard defensively and hauled down six rebounds.
“Riley’s tenacity has been a huge asset,” said Hennelly.
Groton-Dunstable improved to 5-0 with the victory.
Goodale (six points, five steals) and Leger (four points, four rebounds, five steals) were named to the tournament all-star team, Connolly finished with six points.